Tag Archives: Guanella Pass Hill Climb
Melanie took to the hills ad represented Naked for the Guanella Pass Hill Climb in the uber competitive Women’s Pro 1/2 Category. Read her report here:
The climb up Guanella Pass outside of Georgetown is beautiful, rife with ponds, reservoirs, gushing waterfalls and scenic views every time you turn a corner — I didn’t notice any of it.
That happens in bike racing, in this case the State Hill Climb Championships at Guanella Pass. You’re so focused on turning the pedals over, breathing or catching the wheel in front of you that you don’t see anything else.
The race started out as a near disaster for me. Organizers staged the racers earlier than expected, and I did not have time to warm up. There were 8 women in the 1/2 category, and we all shivered under cloudy skies waiting for our wave to be sent off on the 11-mile climb.
As we started, a few girls sprinted off, and I fully felt the consequences of my lack of warm-up. There was no power in my legs, and the initial switchbacks, which hit 12 % grade, made my lungs burn. The entire field left me in a matter of minutes, and in my head I imagined EVERYONE from all the juniors to the tandems passing me.
I was going to be dead last.
To my relief, my legs woke up after about 10 minutes and I set to work catching up. I did slowly for the next 45 minutes, picking off all the riders who had passed me earlier.
The last couple miles were a struggle as the pitch got steeper, and being above treeline, the air was frigid and the wind was gusting. I finished 5th in my category and just in time to see other Naked Racing women in the 3 and 4 categories come trickling through the finish line.
Talk about a mountain top experience! I strongly recommend checking out this climb when not racing — the road is in great condition and the scenes are phenomenal!
We had 10 women today at Guanella Pass Hill Climb, with over 40 women showing up in the Cat 4 field. To boot, we landed on the podium today twice! Great race, from Noodles perspective.
The race up Guanella Pass this morning was a beautiful, fun race and great chance for riders to put their climbing legs, and lungs to the test. For a few Naked Cat 4’s this was their first hill climb race ever. The morning started out brisk but sunny with racers setting up trainers, finishing up coffee, and applying the oh so important sunscreen. It was quickly discovered that Sharon Madison and I were both sporting bright and colorful team-spirited nail polish– probably the best discovery of the morning, second only to finding out I was parked close to the port-a-potty’s. The day=off to a good start.
What happens when you open up a can of worms instead of whoop ass? You make important discoveries and make improvements for the better, that’s what. Rachel bares all about missing goals and the power of support systems.
If you’re a competitive cyclist or athlete, you might fall in the Type A, over-achiever, perfectionist category. I’d like to think I’m a bit more balanced than that, and perhaps after this past weekend, I can get back that perspective.
Here’s the background:
- Been training since November with the Gila in mind at minimum 12 hours per week and at most 22, with many of those hours accumulating on back-to-back 4 hour rides and several 3-5 day blocks of training.
- Have given up running, hiking, climbing, social life (somewhat) to make a concerted effort to see what I could actually do if I solely focused on the bike.
- Invested money into a coach and plan.
- Focused intently on my diet before, during, and after bike rides and any spare time is spent preparing food to fuel my workouts.
- Actually put cash towards regular massage in an attempt to avoid injury and aid in recovery. I’m getting older and can feel that recovery isn’t as easy as it used to be.
With all of the above plus some, the metamorphosis is noticeable. I’m stronger, faster, and smarter than years past. And even posted some good results early in the season, including my first P1/2 podium finishes in Frostbite TT, Haystack TT and TTT, and at Wheels of Thunder criterium. But this year, I’ve also struggled with looking at my own gains instead of focusing on the gains of others. I’m competitive–always have been–but not against myself. That’s why I didn’t care much for triathlon (that and swimming). I couldn’t necessarily stare my opponents in the face. And dammit if Strava didn’t suck me in and contribute to the proclivity to competition.
Fast forward to the State TT on Saturday. Knowing that I wasn’t going to podium with the likes of Olympians, National Champions, and Pan American games medalists starting behind me, the pressure was at least a bit more manageable. Warmed up with my teammate Ingrid, did my usual peeing routine, and lined up prepared to suffer for an hour. Fully expecting to get passed, just a little sooner than it happened, I crossed the line thinking I had done my best but missing my goal of breaking an hour by nearly 1 minute. That’s the second time this year I failed a significant goal (with not making the time cut to the Gila being the other). To make matters worse, my times were nowhere near the top 3. Not even close, even if I doped.
Instead of reflecting (sulking) on the race, I had to present the awards per my ACA board position for the next few hours. That actually was an awesome experience seeing the joy of other riders and allowed me to focus on anything but myself at that moment. But on my drive home, the pity party began. How could it be that I’ve trained my ass off and continue to fail as the season progressed? How could I do everything right and still miss my goal by a landslide? If I lack the ability to make myself suffer for an hour on the flats, how will I ever become a better road racer and hill climber?
I couldn’t shake those feelings from the day prior the next morning. I was supposed to do the Guanella Pass Hill Climb and help a teammate Janet, who was participating in her last race in Colorado before moving to Virginia. I didn’t want to do it after the State TT. I’m no climber, and after the day before, I felt like I couldn’t even TT anymore. My only saving grace was that they weren’t going to combine the categories so I felt a little less shameful for bailing. But while I was waiting for Megan who carpooled with me, I heard the worst-they combined the categories and had I done it, I could have helped Janet.
I cannot begin to describe how hard it was to NOT race this race. I showed up with the worst of intentions by not mentally being tough enough to do it after my performance at yesterday’s race. I assure you, getting dropped (which would have been eminent) feels a hell of a lot better than how I felt at that moment. Suck it up and HTFU is what the normal Rachel would have done. Teamwork, toughness, and selflessness are values that I hold very high on my list and for the team. I don’t like letting myself down, but can live with it. But letting someone else down is something that I cannot and will not tolerate.
And then hearing that my two very selfless teammates woke up at the crack of dawn to chalk up the roads for us and then cheer for us suffering up the climbs made me nearly burst into tears. What the Amanda’s did to support was the exact team dynamic we’ve worked so hard to achieve since this team’s inception. I want to be the Amandas. What awesome teammates, and I had to go and be a terrible one.
Per our usual email updates to the team, I wrote pretty much the paragraphs above to our team listserv. Not sure why, but maybe I was hoping to further punish myself, hoping for criticism or hoping for someone to rub my nose in my weakness. And then the exact opposite happened. My teammates started pouring in the responses to me. They didn’t trickle in; emails/texts/phone calls came in droves offering support, alcohol-therapy, reassurance, appreciation, and motivation. I haven’t cried in years, but I did that day. Their support today and every past race has meant the world to me. Every Naked/TriBella woman is an inspiring ambassador not only for this team, but for women’s cycling.
- Be a good ambassador and help mentor new women to the sport any chance I get.
- Enjoy an activity other than cycling one day per week (ok, mountain biking can count there) starting with getting lost in the woods and climbing mountains.
- Ride my bike for the pure enjoyment of it and if I don’t feel like riding, simply don’t.
- Stop comparing myself to others. I’m genetically NOT a freak in any way except that I can pick my nose with my tongue. Ingrid shared a great article with me comparing training to popcorn. “Not every athlete starts with the same number of kernels, and more heat—tempting as it is to apply–isn’t always better. At a certain point, we’re going to burn those kernels. And it’s hard to rescue burnt corn.”
Megan tackled the first-year Guanella Pass Hill Climb in some serious winds and was rewarded (and surprised) along the way with motivation from our teammates.
Guanella Pass Hill Climb was this past Sunday. Why would anyone race their bike up a 12,700 foot mountain for fun?
1. The pavement was like butter (says Janet Uhde)
2. Hill Climbing is perhaps the best (humbling) test of your fitness.
3. The scenery could not be beat.
PLUS an unexpected reason: the Naked TriBella SuperFans!
This past Sunday, Kimberley, Janet, and I all raced the Guanella Pass Hill Climb, in SW2, SW3, SW4 respectively. We all achieved top 10 in our competitive categories and each overcame our own battle. Kimberley is returning from a serious wreck at City Park Crit and a bruised sternum. Janet is wrapping up swing shift rotations at her Denver medical residency, and I was battling a slow leak in my front tubular. Anyhow, it was a beautiful (albeit windy) morning, and we all enjoyed a good challenge.
Little did we know, our AWESOME teammates Amanda B and Amanda C were up at the crack up dawn riding the climb and chalking in with their support. Not only that, but they cheered from the top for over 2 hours for almost every finisher. I commend these girls for their undying support of the team, whether they are racing or not, and commitment to the sport and sportsmanship.
I was prouder than ever to be a Naked Tribella team member this past Sunday, thanks to my wonderful teammates, who continue to pleasantly surprise me with their undying commitment to the sport and this team. Plus, did I mention they now know personally almost every other girl on the women’s peloton?
Thanks for bringing a smile to my face at 12,700 feet!